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Hawaii Scientists Concerned After Discovering Finless Sharks

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology

HILO — Multiple sharks in Hawaii have been found without their fins, raising concerns among marine biologists, a report said.

Three sharks were found and photographed Wednesday on the Big Island without fins, one of them gutted, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Thursday.

Two of the sharks were threatened oceanic whitetip shark species found alive and photographed off the coast of west Hawaii by dive tour operators, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said.

The third was a whitetip reef shark found without fins and disemboweled, officials said.

"Shark finning is not a new phenomenon, but the recent number of incidents is concerning," said department monitoring technician Stacia Marcoux. "This is especially true for the threatened oceanic whitetip."

Marcoux's colleague found and reported a dead whitetip reef shark without fins on the Big Island in June.

Investigations into shark-finning are difficult to conduct without knowing who is responsible and when the crime occurred, said officials with the department's Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officials said.

It is illegal within the west Hawaii area to capture, kill, sell, or offer to sell whitetip reef shark and other species. It is also illegal anywhere in Hawaii to possess, sell, trade, or distribute shark fins, authorities said.

Sharks help sustain fish communities, balance the marine ecosystem and are considered by some to be important to island culture, scientists said.

"Sharks deserve our respect and we're encouraged that most tour operators are educating their clients about this issue. No one wants to see an injured shark swimming by," Marcoux said.

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